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Published: Wednesday, 5/11/2011 - Updated: 4 years ago

Plant Exchange to take place Saturday

Toledoan Richard Nagy stands in line to exit with an armful of plants during a previous exchange. Toledoan Richard Nagy stands in line to exit with an armful of plants during a previous exchange.
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In its seventh year, the area's biggest plant giveaway will take place from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Saturday in South Toledo.

The Plant Exchange, from which no one need leave empty-handed, will be preceded by a free 9:15 a.m. workshop on how to keep chickens and rabbits. The Plant Exchange will be in the parking lot next to the Original Sub Shop, 402 Broadway near the Amtrak station, and the workshop will be in the cafe.

Run by a loosely knit group of devoted gardeners who share the will to share their hobby, people donate excess plants and related items beginning at 9 a.m. Then, volunteers clad in red aprons, organize the goods into categories such as sun, shade, ground covers, and "junque." Attendees who bring items receive more tickets than those who don't. Items unclaimed by 11:30 a.m. may be taken by anyone.

Donna Keller, a coordinator of the event and one of many master gardeners who will be on hand to offer advice, thinned out her own garden one year and hauled 200 plants to the event, including many hosta varieties, a bushel of petite purple iris, dragon blood and tri-color sedum, geum, daylilies, daisies, bee balm, ferns, hollyhocks, and mums.

Last year, a fellow who was downsizing, donated his collection of cactus to the crowd's delight.

There are usually grasses, houseplants, bulbs, raspberries, vegetable plants, books, pots, and Oak Opening natives. Occasionally, landscaping rocks, trellises, wood ash, horse and llama manure make an appearance. Tickets will be sold for a raffle at which cold frames and garden art will be available.

Denny and Connie Dreher find a few perennials at The Plant Exchange. Denny and Connie Dreher find a few perennials at The Plant Exchange.
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The worst thing Ms. Keller has seen arrive? Clumps of garlic mustard, which is highly invasive. Once identified, the green pest was quickly dumped. She asks people to label the plants they bring and put them in containers or bags suitable for a single gardener.

Stacey Puryear, at her 9:15 talk, will explain the ease and pleasure with which chickens and rabbits can be raised in the city.

"Chickens make barely any sound," she said, "but when they lay their eggs they want to tell everybody about it." She recommends Rhode Island Red, Leghorns, and Australorps.

For pet rabbits, an excellent breed is the velvety-furred Mini Rex. Ms. Puryear runs the Holy Toledo Warriors 4-H Club, based at the Oneida City Farm at Oneida and Locust streets in North Toledo. The farm, operated by Toledo Grows, also is home to tilapia fish, bee hives, turkeys, and vegetable gardens.

The Plant Exchange has given away as many as 1,500 items in 90 minutes, and repeats the formula on the first Saturday in October.

"It introduces a lot of people to gardening. It gets them off to a low-cost start without the sticker shock," said Michael Szuberla, program director of Toledo Grows, the community outreach program of Toledo Botanical Garden. "And it allows the serious gardener to diversity their gardens."

He'll bring vegetable seedlings started in Toledo Grows' greenhouses.

Information about the Plant Exchange: 419-243-4857.

Contact Tahree Lane at tlane@theblade.com or 419-724-6075.

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